Camping at Lake Chelan, WA

Ah, the first camping trip of the season. After seeing that the weather was going to be sunny and in the 80’s, Beth and I decided to take a spur of the moment camping trip to Lake Chelan State Park. For those who may not know, Lake Chelan is a narrow, but long, lake about 40 miles or so past Steven’s Pass. It is 55 miles long, and 1 mile at it’s widest. At it’s deepest it is, now hold on to your life-jackets, a little under 1500 feet. Yeah, 1500 feet deep. It makes it the 3rd deepest lake in the US and 24th in the world. GO WASHINGTON! (coughs) It is all of those things, but mostly it is just a drop dead gorgeous place to camp.

We arrived a little after 4pm on Thursday and set about trying to find a campsite. As luck would have it, there was one available lake side. Marking our territory like wayward bears just out of hibernation, we set up camp. As of this writing, a campsite on the lake side is $21 a night. They have fire pits with built in grates, level tent sites, and picnic tables. It’s not backpack territory, but rather a perfect compromise between accessibility and wilderness. Scattered between the campsites are mooring areas and docks. To be honest, I’m not sure what boats could moor at them, as the water level was down quite a bit. I think my fat butt would have beached a flat bottom kayak to be honest, but they make an excellent place to enjoy the view from. Between the lake and the sites sits a border of rocks, from which marmots hop and pose like meerkats, and a sandy walking path perfect for evening strolls.

After a meal of grilled hamburgers and chips, we sat back to enjoy the quiet serenity of it all. A slight culinary note on the chips. They were Lay’s Baslamic with Sweet Onion flavored chips. Now, I like variety as much as the next guy, but do we really need this level of flavor differentiation in our chips? What’s next, Mediterranean Anchovy with Stone Ground Mustard and Sicilian Olive Oil? Um, come to think about it, lay off people at Lay’s, I’m claiming that one. Where was I…oh yeah, quiet. I think there were maybe 2-3 other campsites up and running and the quiet was perfect. Had a fire, enjoyed a couple of cocktails and just soaked it all in.

On Friday we woke up to the sound of birds and someone rummaging around in our stuff outside. Now, I’m ex-Navy. Trained. I know how to handle things like this. So, gathering up my courage I nudged Beth and whispered, “See what’s going on.” Sighing, she moved silently to the tent flap as the rustling got louder. As she peeked out I heard her scream, “Oh my God!” I quickly ducked deep inside my sleeping bag. No sense in both of us being killed, right? Then I heard her laughing. Brave woman that Beth. Salt of the earth. I decided to venture a peek as well. As it turned out our “intruder” was just a marmot who was more interested in the Lay’s potato chips than we were. He had unrolled the bag and was taking them out one at a time and munching away. I swore he looked at me and said, “What, no beer?” just as Beth scared him off.

After calming down from our near death marmot mauling experience, we went into the town of Chelan to pick up some food for dinner and more ice. Returning to our campsite, we found that creatures of the human variety had started to arrive. We unloaded the food into the cooler and went about doing normal camping things, reading and relaxing being top of the list. Beth did go and play in the ice cold water a while and we took a walk around the campgrounds. Oh yeah, people were coming in…and fast. Back at camp after our walk, we decided to have a cocktail and were instantly joined by a Mr and Mrs Mallard. Apparently they had just flown in, and were looking for some nosh. We offered up crackers and martinis. Mr Mallard complained that the martini was not dry enough and lacked olives. The quack. Oh, I’m so sorry about that one. Wow. Bad puns aside, they stayed a while, even sleeping next to Beth for a bit before they decided to fly off to see if they could find some other tapas, or perhaps a properly made martini.

For dinner I steamed a rockfish in soju with a butter sauce, and potatoes and onions with olive oil and butter. Just because one camps, doesn’t mean one has to survive on grilled meat alone. After cleaning up, we sat back to enjoy the…screaming of kids, yelling of young adults, and the sound of a youngster hitting rocks with an aluminum bat. It was time for stronger cocktails, much stronger. Later we retired for the night after marveling over a cloudless, star filled night sky. Wondrous indeed.

On Sat we awoke to the sound of kids crying, adults yelling and dogs barking. Rant mode is now officially on. I have the utmost respect for parents who want to teach their kids to appreciate the out of doors. I have no respect for those that do so by bringing the entire playroom, letting kids chase the birds and marmots, allowing them to scream at the top of their lungs or letting them wander off into who knows what trouble as they sit around the table bemoaning the trials of being a parent. How do I know this? They all talk in a volume more befit a rock concert than the quiet of the woods. Sound carries folks, it carries quiet well. As to those of you who insist of traveling with your little pocketbook dogs? Fine. Some dogs love to camp. They like getting in the water, playing around, etc. Again, perfectly fine with that. Those of you who leave your little 5 pound barking package tied up while you go off for hours on end however, should be forced into a small room with a barking dog until their ears bleed. Common courtesy people. Think.

While we were having coffee, our friends the Mallards stopped by to say goodbye and enjoy breakfast with us. After an hour or so of idle chit-quack, they said their goodbyes and flew off in search of quieter surroundings. Taking our cue from them, we decided to do the same. So, leaving behind the sounds of yipping dogs, the pinging of rocks on bats and the banshee screams of a 2 year old demon spawn, we broke camp, loaded the car and headed back over the pass to home. Was the trip a success? Oh you bet. Would I recommend it? Yes, the campground is very clean, restrooms are above the norm, and the rangers and assistants are all top notch. Just remember to bring earplugs to insure quiet, when others around you refuse to play nice.


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